Dark elves ( are known as a class of elves living underground in Old Norse mythology, the counterparts to the Ljósálfar ("Light-elves"). They are very similar to dwarfs as they mainly live in places where there is little light, though unlike both high elves and dwarves the dark elves are an evil race that like suffering and pain. Their physical appearance is of darkly colored hair and black/dark eyes, as opposed to light elves with blond hair and blue eyes. Their skin tone could be any shade of color just like humans.[1] The dark elves originated in the Eddic and Germanic myths. They are more recently described as a race of elves and sometimes counterparts to the high elves in fiction and modern popular culture.

Dark elves are also now a common character in modern fantasy fiction, although usually very highly embellished with outside influences and rarely displaying many elements of the ancient folktales that inspired their inclusion, throughout fantasy fiction of many types. Their appearance varies considerably from representation to representation, as does their given background.

Origins in folkloreEdit

Norse/Germanic mythologyEdit

In Norse mythology, Svartálfar ("Swart-elves" or "black elves"), sometimes considered synonymous with duergar ("dwarves"), are subterranean creatures who dwell in the world of Svartálfheim. They may be either benevolent or malevolent. The original Svartalfar worked the forges on the lowest level of the world tree. Their roles and countenance vary throughout Germanic folklore but are sometimes mentioned with Black or Dark hair.

The Dökkálfar ("Dark-elves") are male ancestral spirits who may protect the people, although some can be menacing, especially when one is rude to them. They are generally light-avoiding, though not necessarily subterranean.

In the prose Edda Gylfaginning, Snorri Sturluson, author of among other things the Younger Edda, distinguishes them from the Ljósálfar ("Light-elves") of Álfheim, in most sources simply known as elves.

Scottish folkloreEdit

In the Orkney Islands, the Trow or the black elves or drows are similar to the Svartalfar or to Scandinavian trolls or dwarves, and inhabit mines and caves. They may be either helpful or harmful but stories regarding harm are more common.

The Drow or the dark elves are the Shetland Isle equivalent of the Trow, but unlike the trow, they are thought of as exclusively malicious. They are tiny elves known for their mining and metal-working, not unlike dwarves.

In the Scottish Gaelic language, the terms Daoi-Sith (loosely interpreted as "dark elves" [1]), and Du-Sith (loosely interpreted as "black elves" [2]) exist. Both terms are obscure, and the latter seems to have been used as a proper name. Apart from an ambiguous folktale of uncertain origin involving one Sir Lachlan Mor M'Clean [3], there are no known surviving myths or stories associated with these creatures.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Crossley-Holland, Kevin (1980). The Norse Myths. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0394500482. 
  • Wikisource:Prose Edda/Gylfaginning (The Fooling Of Gylfe) by Sturluson, Snorri, 13th century Edda, in English. Accessed Apr. 16, 2007.
  • Gylfaginning in Old Norse[4]) Accessed Apr. 16, 2007.
  • Bulfinch, Thomas (1834). Bulfinch's Mythology. New York: Harper & Row, 1970, p. 348. ISBN 0-690-57260-3.
  • Marshall Jones Company (1930). Mythology of All Races Series, Volume 2 Eddic, Great Britain: Marshall Jones Company, 1930, pp. 220-221.


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